Blue Parking Badges for Autism

This week saw some exciting news for the autistic community. Families affected by autism will soon be able to apply for a blue parking badge. This will mean that they can use bays reserved for disabled people. The change is a result of many years of campaigning by autism charities. Authorities and organisations are becoming increasingly aware that not all disabilities are visible. This article will examine the new changes and discuss how to apply for a blue badge.

How Can Autistic People Qualify for a Blue Badge?

It is important to note that not autistic people want, or need, a blue parking badge. However, for many families, the new changes will make a huge difference to their quality of life. For example, a family with a severely autistic child may currently be unable to leave the house if their child has a poor sense of danger, or is prone to unpredictable meltdowns. Some autistic children will bolt and run away, causing danger to themselves and road users alike. Children with autism may also be prone to destructive behaviour.

For the reasons outlined above, we can see why the new changes have been made. Currently, a family affected by autism can apply for a blue badge if they:

1: Cannot take a journey without risk of serious harm or psychological distress.

2: Have 10 points on the PIP mobility component if planning and making a journey causes significant distress.

How to Apply for a Blue Badge for Autism

The new rules will come into effect from the 30 August 2019. From this date, families will be able to apply online for a blue badge under the new criteria. The website is https://www.gov.uk/apply-blue-badge.

The National Autistic Society also have some useful advice about the application process for a blue badge on their website. It also has some real-life stories that show how families will benefit from having a blue badge.

New Blue Badge Rules Help Autistic Families

The new rules are overwhelmingly positive and will give families affected by autism a new lease of freedom. Individuals with autism, as well as those affected by anxiety, OCD or dementia will also benefit. It is encouraging to see how small changes like these can make a big difference for autistic children and their carers.

Autism and Exams

As my daughter is currently in her final week of GCSE’s, it seemed only appropriate to write a special blogpost all about autism and exams. This time of year, teenagers up and down the country are sitting their GCSE and A Level papers. For the autistic child, formal examinations can create a unique set of issues and challenges. It is useful to know what kind of help is available in order to minimise the stress associated with exam season.

Does My Autistic Child Need/Want to Take Exams?

The first point to address is whether taking exams is in the child’s best interest. Autism, being a spectrum condition, affects people in any number of ways. This will affect their ability to perform in an examination scenario. Schools should treat each child as an individual. Will an exam cause unnecessary stress? Is the child capable of doing the work needed in order to pass the exam? Are they able to understand what is expected of them?

In some cases autistic children are not able or ready to do a GCSE. However, there are many entry-level qualification options available to choose from that may be more suitable. Also, an autistic child may excel in more practical subjects. In that case a vocational course may be more appropriate than an academic one.

When deciding what qualifications to take, it is important to consider the interests and strengths of the child. What subjects are they strong in? What does the child want to do as a career? Are they considering a university path? These questions are important when considering which exams to take.

Autism and Exams: Access Arrangements

Schools are able to make special arrangements for autistic pupils taking exams. Again, the needs of the child must be considered. How does their autism affect them in an exam scenario? For example, a child with sensory issues may have problems sitting in an exam hall with other pupils. The sounds of people tapping their feet, pens on paper, coughs and sneezes, may be extremely distracting and uncomfortable. A child with autism may also have fine motor problems, which means that they cannot write as quickly as other children, which would be a great disadvantage in a timed exam.

Access arrangements may include placing a child in a smaller, quieter room to take the exam, so that there are less distractions. Autistic children may also be given extra time to complete their work or allowed access to a laptop or computer so that they can type their answers rather than write them. They may be allowed a reader and/or a scribe during the exam.

It is important to contact the school as soon as possible to put access arrangements in place. These often need to be arranged months in advance with the cooperation of the exam board involved.

Autism and Exams: In Summary

Autistic children are definitely capable of sitting exams and qualifications are more accessible than ever. Schools are making it easier for autistic children by being more inclusive. Autism needn’t be a barrier to academic achievement.

Here’s wishing everyone taking exams every success this year. Keep overcoming challenges and persevering. Hopefully, your hard work will be reflected in your grades in a few months time. And also don’t forget the amazing teachers, parents and support staff who help our autistic children to be the best that they can be.

For more information, the National Autistic Society has a useful webpage on exam guidance.